Monday (8:55 p.m.):
First two items on the call from Gov. Rick Perry: The "non-revenue" and school finance bill, and the Medicaid reforms that were in SB 23. That's where we start, and the governor can add as we go.
Gov. Rick Perry and legislative leaders hope to move through a series of bills quickly during the special session that begins tomorrow, starting with the fiscal issues that forced the session and continuing on through other controversial legislation, including congressional redistricting, reforms to the state's windstorm insurance program, and legislation loosening state mandates on public education, sources said Monday.
The governor has talked to legislative leaders about including several items in the special session, but not all at once. Instead, they're talking about trying to pass legislation in series, moving quickly and adding items to the call as each item wins passage, according to sources.
Congressional maps "are ready to go tomorrow morning, if [Perry] wants them" said state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo. He wouldn't discuss the specifics of the maps, but said that he and his redistricting counterpart in the House, Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, would start with identical maps.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst wrote Perry this afternoon asking the governor to consider several items for the special session's "Call," or agenda.
Dewhurst's wish list would start with SB 1811, the legislation that forced the special session, and move to other issues in the days that follow. That bill raises $3.5 billion in non-tax revenue and puts in place new formulas for state funding of public schools that spread out $4 billion in reduced state aid.
Dewhurst asked Perry to consider a number of other issues, which he listed in his letter: His health care bill, SB 8; a Medicaid reform bill considered essential to the state budget passed last weekend, SB 23; interstate health compacts, HB 5; a ban on sanctuary cities in Texas, HB 12; the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association reforms that died during parleys between tort reformers and trial lawyers, HB 272; higher class sizes and other loosened state mandates on public schools, SB 12/HB 400; legislation restricting "intrusive touching" by security personnel at airports and other buildings, HB 1937; and congressional redistricting, HB 900/SB 308. The bill numbers are from the regular legislative session; those issues would get new numbers in a special session.
Dewhurst told reporters Monday that the Senate won't put a "blocker bill" in place during the special session, erasing the normal requirement that two-thirds of the Senate agree to something before it can be debated. That will make several of those issues easier to pass, should Perry agree to add them to the call.
"Given that a small number of Senate Democrats have demonstrated their unwillingness to find consensus on these important legislative items, I can see no other alternative than to operate under a simple majority vote in the special session," he wrote in his letter to Perry.
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